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  • Writer's pictureHannah Nesher

Who Burned Down the Christmas Tree?

Updated: Mar 7, 2021

Who Burned Down the Christmas Tree?

Ok, I know that this is going to sound like ‘Bahh humbug’ to most people; and it will probably cause me to incur the wrath of many Christmas - loving people, but I have to say it. Thankfully we still have a measure of freedom of speech; and so I have a right to express my opinion on something that may be quite contrary to the majority.

I confess. I am not altogether sorry that some unnamed individuals in our Israeli town burned down the Christmas tree in our central city square. Yes, someone burned down the Christmas tree. Not once but twice. Now that’s chutzpah!

I know that most well-meaning and sincere Christians would think, “That’s terrible! Those ______ Jews burning down our beloved symbol of the birth of our Savior!” Would you consider taking a deep breath and allowing me to share a different perspective of how some of the people of Israel see the Christmas tree?

Of course Israel is a nation that believes in religious tolerance, especially for minorities. The rights of Christians, Muslims, Bahai, and other non-Jewish religious groups are securely protected. Sometimes this reaches bizarre levels of tolerance. For example, Muslims are allowed to blare their 'Allah is Great' chants using loudspeakers throughout the country several times per day, which can be annoying at 5:00 A.M. and yet most Jews in Israel accept this as a price we pay for religious freedom here.

Let me be clear. Most Israelis expressed outrage at this radical act of torching a Christmas tree; but there is another view out there – a legitimate voice that bears being heard.


Israel is a nation born out of the ashes of the Holocaust - literally – God turned ashes into beauty. The crematoriums that murdered millions of our people, birthed this amazing, miraculous country. One of the reasons the world agreed with the need for Jewish people to have a homeland (along with a highly trained and equipped military) is to protect us from those who seek to annihilate us.

Just this week, we witnessed individuals sporting T-shirts with the disgusting slogan, Camp Auschwitz, joined in with the other radical rioters who stormed the Capitol in Washington D.C. Oh yes, the hatred of Jews is still alive and well on Planet Earth. We are not simply being overly paranoid.


The Holocaust (and other acts of anti-Semitism ) are often seen as perpetrated by Christians; and this perspective is not without just cause. One needs only a glance at the bloody history of Christian persecution of the Jewish people to understand; and yet many Christians remain ignorant of these shameful truths. It would seem more convenient to bury the past rather than learn our lessons from history.

Most Christians would deny that the Nazis had any connection to the Christians church; but in actuality, the Nazis only repeated the same sentiments of many of the Christian clergy who views the Jews as being ‘parasitic capitalists’ who exploit Christians; as well as communists seeking to overthrow the government and traditional Christian values in Europe. [2]

The Nazis often parroted Christian themes, spread like a cancer throughout Christianity even from the very root of the Christian fathers of faith, including Martin Luther, founder of Protestantism.

Martin Luther, after becoming frustrated by the Jews’ refusal to convert to Christianity, wrote his book, On the Jews and Their Lies, that the Jews are, “base, whoring people, that is, no people of God, and their boast of lineage, circumcision, and law must be accounted as filth.” He goes on to give “sincere advice” to Christians that includes calls to set the Jews’ synagogues and schools on fire, raze and destroy their houses, and take their prayer books and Talmudic writings. Luther’s stated motivation may be even more striking: “This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians.”[3]

Not to bash the founder of an entire denomination of Christianity, but if these people were true followers of Yeshua the Messiah, they would have known that He said, they will know that we are His disciples by our love (not our hatred) for others (John 13:35).

The seeds for the Holocaust to occur were, in fact, sown by a long history of anti-Semitism which has been perpetuated by some elements of the Christian Church. The Jews were blamed for the crucifixion and therefore portrayed as ‘Christ-killers’. Many Jewish children can recall being beaten up by Christian kids; and elderly Jewish men would have their beards pulled out (especially on Christmas and Easter) because of this accusation.

Totally ignored are Yeshua’s own words who said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep….Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from My Father.” (John 10: 11,17-18)

It is important to keep in mind that the Holocaust happened in a predominantly Christian part of the world. In fact, Holocaust historian Doris Bergen states that approximately 95 percent of Germans at that time were baptized into the Christian faith. Many who declared Jesus as “Lord and Savior” were personally involved in the atrocities.[4]

Others simply stood by and did nothing to resist. There were Christian individuals and groups that did “stand up” in heroic fashion who tried to help the Jews in the Holocaust; and these are honored in the ‘Avenue of the Righteous Gentile’ at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial museum in Jerusalem. Unfortunately, however; these individuals and groups represented a small minority of the Christian Church.

Therefore, things like crosses and Christmas trees, perhaps symbols of God’s love and mercy to the Christian world, more likely represents hatred, persecution and torture to the Jewish people.

Jewish people who have chosen to live in Israel expect (and I believe rightfully so) a place of refuge from these disturbing reminders of a painful past; a place where we can live as Jews – without apology or fear.

This is not easy to write about; but it is necessary for people to understand. I could go on and on… and on… but it seems to me that what I have already shared here is enough to give you a glimpse of why some zealous individual(s) would see it worth the risk to burn down the Christmas tree. They are seeking to keep Israel a Jewish nation, free of idolatry and paganism.


God has warned us in His Word not to worship Him in the ways of the pagans:

Do not worship the LORD your God in the way these pagan peoples worship.” (Deuteronomy 12:4)

The custom of decorating a Christmas tree dates back only a few centuries, however the principle behind it- about sacred trees - is ancient. Pagans had a custom of worshipping trees in the forest, or bringing them into their homes and decorating them, and this observance was adopted by the Christian Church. Holy trees, symbols of the life force, were also associated with Canaanite cults.


Sexual intercourse under these ‘holy trees’ was thought to transmit the potency and vitality of the goddess (Hosea 4:13-14). These female deities could well have been the Asherah or Astarte who are often mentioned in the Old Testament as the consort of the weather god Baal (Judg. 3:7)

In at least ten Biblical references, the green tree is associated with idolatry and false worship. (1 Kings 14:23) The colorful, shining balls symbolize the sun and sun worship. The use of holly and mistletoe comes from the Druid ceremonies. Druids used mistletoe to poison their human sacrificial victim. [5]Christians adopted the custom of ‘kissing under the mistletoe as a synthesis of Druid sacrificial rituals with Saturnalia sexual immorality.

Places of worship with sacred Christmas trees are frequently mentioned in the Bible (Josh. 24:26) and the prophet Jeremiah condemned their use:

Do not learn the ways of the nations... For the customs of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest...

...and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter.” (Jeremiah 10:1-4)

Artificial Christmas trees sold in Israeli town shop

If the Christmas tree is so abhorrent to a significant segment of Jewish Israeli society, what is it doing in right in the middle of our town square?? Unfortunately, the recent immigration from Russia and Eastern Europe brought with it a significant population of people that, although they may be considered technically Jewish through a Jewish grandparent in their lineage, they have little emotional or spiritual connection to their Jewish heritage. Many of them are professing Christians.

I remember the blank stare I received when I walked into a Russian owned grocery store on Friday afternoon, asking for a challah (the traditional braided loaf of bread used on Friday night to usher in the Sabbath). The clerk just shook her head, no, and looked at me like I was crazy to even ask.

I am not racist (at least I hope not); but these Russian stores have brought into Israel foods such as pork and shrimp that God has declared an abomination and not fit for His holy people. We can’t stand to walk into them due to the stench of unclean meats.

Perhaps the Christmas trees and Santas and other Christmas paraphernalia was just the proverbial ‘last straw’ in a series of religious offenses.

There exists a sentiment that if these people who made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) as Jews should live as Jews; and not bring these anti-Biblical elements in to contaminate our country. God has judged Israel before for its rebellion against His commandments and idolatry.

Santa dolls and hats sold in local store in Israel during Christmas season

Perhaps those who burned down the Christmas trees acted in the spirit of Pinchas, who was zealous for God’s holiness, and commended for taking radical action to stop an offense to God (Numbers 25:1-9). Maybe some simply don’t want to stand by and do nothing. At least they took a stand for righteousness. And no, I’m not really sorry….

By Hannah Nesher

January 3rd, 2021

[2] Passelecq and Suchecky 1997, pp. 123–36) [3] . Luther, M. (1543). On the Jews and Their Lies. Retrieved from: [4] Bergin, D. L. (2000). “Collusion, Resistance, Silence: Protestants and the Holocaust.” In C. Rittner, S. D. Smith, & I. Steinfeldt (Eds.), The Holocaust and the Christian World. [5] Miles Clement, in his book, Christmas Customs and Traditions: Their History and Significance, New York: Dover Publications

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